Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex general manager lauded for volunteerism

June 27, 2011|By JANET HEIM |
  • Jim Blaylock, general manager of the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex, recently was recognized by the Southeastern District of USA Hockey as a Volunteer of the Year.
By Ric Dugan/Staff Photographer

HAGERSTOWN — James “Jim” Blaylock took early retirement from the Internal Revenue Service in January 2008, but it wasn’t for a life of leisure.

Instead, he traded a paycheck for a volunteer position as general manager of the Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex.

His commitment to the community didn’t go unnoticed, as he recently was recognized by the Southeastern District of USA Hockey as a Volunteer of the Year.

The recognition surprised him, said Blaylock, who describes himself as “quiet and reserved,” and said he prefers to work behind the scenes.

“I don’t like being singled out because there are so many volunteers who do so many things,” he said.

Blaylock, 59, admitted he volunteers an average of 35 to 50 hours most weeks.

Blaylock was born and raised in southern Maryland and graduated from the University of Maryland College Park with a bachelor’s degree in information systems. He worked for the Department of Defense for 29 years as an electronics engineer, then worked for nine years as an analyst for the IRS in Washington, D.C.

He and Joyce, his wife of 32 years, have one daughter and four grandchildren. With their daughter living in Smithsburg, the Blaylocks moved to the Boonsboro area in 2001 to be closer to her family and to allow Jim to easily commute to Washington by train.
Blaylock didn’t play ice hockey when he was growing up because the closest ice rink was in Washington. He was, however, a big fan of professional ice hockey and watched it on television.

When his oldest grandson, now 15, said he wanted to play hockey, he got involved with the youth hockey program at Hagerstown Ice & Sports Complex. Blaylock trained to be a coach through USA Hockey and has coached ever since.

In 2007, the City of Hagerstown ended its contract with the organization that was running the rink and said the rink would close until a manager was found. The Hagerstown Youth Hockey Association (HYHA) proposed taking on the task.

If the rink closed, even temporarily, “Our kids wouldn’t have had anyplace to play or figure skate,” Blaylock said.

HYHA volunteers were given a one-year trial period. When that first year was a success, the contract was extended for five more years, Blaylock said. There is a board of directors with representatives from HYHA, figure skating, adult hockey and the City of Hagerstown.

“We try to get views from all sides,” Blaylock said.

The volunteers had a variety of business experience, and they developed a business model that accommodates youth hockey, figure skating, adult hockey and public skating.

“I retired early from civil service to make sure things ran OK,” Blaylock said.

He’s proud to say they’re running “in the green” and because HYHA is a nonprofit organization, the profits are being reinvested into the facility. This year, the rink will get showers and new locker rooms.

“I plan to continue volunteering. This is more kind of a community commitment,” Blaylock said.

The goal is to be able to support salaried employees, including a general manager who would do what Blaylock is doing. There are some paid employees, including one full-time facilities manager and some part-time workers to staff the public skating sessions.

“Without volunteers, it would have been a huge struggle to run in the beginning. Right now, I consider us very fortunate to have the number of volunteers that give the hours that we do. We’re in a good place now, but we never turn down volunteers,” Blaylock said.

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